Cubs’ Pete Crow-Armstrong gets 1st MLB hit with tiebreaking home run

Pete Crow-Armstrong hit a tiebreaking two-run homer for his first major league hit, and the Chicago Cubs swept the Houston Astros with a 3-1 victory on Thursday.

Houston has lost a season-high five consecutive and eight of nine overall. At 7-19, it is off to its worst 26-game start since it was 6-20 in 1969.

First-year manager Joe Espada was ejected by plate umpire Jansen Visconti in the top of the ninth.

“I just did not agree with his strike zone all day,” Espada said after his first ejection as a big league manager.

Crow-Armstrong was recalled from Triple-A Iowa when Cody Bellinger was placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with two fractured ribs. The 22-year-old outfielder, who is considered one of the team’s top prospects, made his big league debut last year and went 0 for 14 while appearing in 13 games.

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He picked a perfect time for his first major league hit.

Houston had a 1-0 lead before Dansby Swanson scampered home on a fielder’s choice grounder for Miguel Amaya in the sixth.

Espada then replaced Rafael Montero (0-1) with Bryan Abreu, who threw a wild pitch with Crow-Armstrong trying to sacrifice Amaya to second. Crow-Armstrong then drove his next pitch deep to right, delighting the crowd of 29,876 at Wrigley Field.

“It felt good to get it out of the way and it came at a great moment,” said Crow-Armstrong, who was mobbed by teammates when he returned to the dugout. “That was by far the best part — getting to embrace the people who’ve been in my corner.”

Nico Hoerner had three hits and Mike Tauchman had a hit and three walks as Chicago won for the fourth time in five games. Hayden Wesneski (2-0) pitched 2⅓ perfect innings for the win in relief of Javier Assad.

Hector Neris worked the ninth for his third save in four chances. He walked Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker before retiring three consecutive batters.

Houston concluded with four hits and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. It scored a total of six runs in the three-game series.

Astros right-hander Justin Verlander pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings in his second start since he missed the beginning of the season because of shoulder inflammation. The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed three hits, struck out seven and walked four.

“It’s a little gut check here,” Verlander said of the team’s poor start. “We’ve just got to fight.”

Alex Bregman singled twice versus Assad to reach 1,000 career hits.

Assad permitted one run in 5⅔ innings. He struck out five and walked one.

“He is showing us hitters don’t like his stuff,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “They’re having trouble with it.”

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